i'm not shutting up about marriage yet. actually, i haven't even gotten to marriage yet, i'm only going to shut up about engagement after this post. so many issues, so little time.
i mentioned in my last post on the subject that despite all my misgivings about the idea of getting engaged (and thus getting married, but again, that's almost a whole 'nother ball of wax), i have not ruled it out for BoyCat and myself. why? short answer: i dunno. isn't it obvious i'm just flailing about through life with nary a clue as to what i'm doing?
i'm guessing that the seat of my reluctance to completely buck the trend of engagement is social conditioning. i know, it's not as sexy as repressed memories or the revelation that i'm the second coming of elizabeth taylor or anything, but i think it's true. no matter how rationally we can parse something, no matter how resolutely we can claim to be beyond the need for something so obviously socially constructed (and thus socially controlling), the undertow of what is expected can pull us under. that's the way social conditioning works, for gods sake - if it weren't so persuasive, would everybody be doing it? not to sound like i'm channelling a fundie here, but marriage is a cornerstone of how our society functions - the nuclear family, and its gender roles, are intrinsic to maintaining the status quo. and it's any society's ultimate aim to maintain the status quo and keep things humming along smoothly.
but feminists, myself among them, don't want patriarchy to keep skipping along on its merry, injust, dehumanizing way. radical feminists don't merely want to allow women to be able to play a man's game - we want to change the way the whole game is played. so as a radical feminist, when you see all the ways - subtle and glaring, insidious and overtly threatening - that society asks you to shut up and play along, don't you want to challenge that? when you see the way that the path of serious relationship, engagement, marriage, children, house in the suburbs is what's expected, when you're told that's what you're supposed to want, don't you want to say "pardon me, but fuck that"?
i don't know about you, but i do.
i feel like my life is often a turning of tides between two poles - the pole of stasis, stability, conformity, what is expected, and the pole of dynamism, movement, rebellion, what is unexpected. i'd like to say that the ideal way to handle that is to find a way to integrate these two forces in my life - to allow for a little bit of both. but i think that's too easy. i think one side of you would always be accusing the other of treachery. but maybe that's the price you pay, maybe that's the way you have to compromise.
i will get engaged. i won't wear a diamond ring. i will wear a physical signifier of the engagement. i will try to figure out a way for BoyCat to wear one too. i will tell people i am engaged. i will smile inside each time they look down at my empty left hand, and look up again in confusion. i will entertain questions about the dress, the location, the cake, the flowers. i will have a warehouse of slightly sarcastic answers if the questioner is annoying me.
maybe this is all true, maybe it's not. to get back to my short answer, i honestly don't know. because really, we haven't even scratched the surface of the fundamental issue, which is behind why people get engaged in the first place: marriage.
before i can seriously answer the question of whether i want to get engaged, i have to figure out if i want to get married.